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Tracking the tourism industry’s recovery… in real time

By: Steve Orbanek
First Published: May 18, 2020
Topics: Faculty, Feature Story, In the News, Research, Sport, STHM School, Tourism & Hospitality, U.S.-Asia Center

Temple University faculty member Yang Yang creates Covid19Tourism Index  to monitor the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tourism

PHILADELPHIA, May 18, 2020 — Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, experts have assumed that recovery for the tourism industry would be a long and arduous process. However, thanks to a Temple University faculty member, the road to recovery might now be a bit more clear. 

Yang Yang, an associate professor in the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM) at Temple University and assistant director of Temple’s U.S.-Asia Center for Tourism & Hospitality Research, recently created the Covid19Tourism Index. The index draws from multiple sources to oversee the recovery process of the national tourism industry in more than 100 countries.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought devastating impacts of an unprecedented scale to the global tourism industry, and as a tourism faculty member and data analyst, I feel obligated to provide my support to the industry,” Yang says. “The Covid19Tourism Index helps the industry gauge the recovery level compared to the ‘normal time’ without COVID-19.”

The model features five different sub-indexes. They are as follows:

  • The Aviation Index: Measures the air flight departure volume in the major international airports of each country.
  • The Hotel Index: Measures the hotel performance level of major hotels and hotel chains in each country.
  • The Pandemic Index: Measures the pandemic situation based on new COVID-19 cases per 1 million inbound tourists.
  • The Interest Index: Measures the online interests in the search engine from potential tourists.
  • The Mobility Index: Measures the level of mobility in tourism-related locations, such as national parks, amusement parks and transport hubs.

Data for each index comes from a number of sources refreshed daily, including hotel performances, major airport departures, Google Trends, Google Mobility Tracker and the European Centre for Disease Prevention for COVID-19 pandemic data. It also analyzes historic tourism arrival and revenue data from the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

Yang says the index will continue to be updated throughout the pandemic. It’s also another example of outreach done by the Temple’s U.S.-Asia Center for Tourism & Hospitality Research since COVID-19 drastically upended the tourism industry. Just last week, the center hosted The Future of Tourism Research in a Post-Pandemic World webinar, which was attended by more than 1,400 academic and industry professionals.

For folks dealing with cabin fever who are looking to get away, the Covid19Tourism Index provides a light at the end of the tunnel. And, according to Yang, that light could be closer than you think.

“The Covid19Tourism Index of the United States hit the bottom around mid-April, with a value around 18,” Yang says. “As of May 9, the value bounced back to more than 23. We predict the value will reach 50 (out of 100) around mid-July. That’s not perfect, but it’s definitely considerable progress.”

About the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management

Established in 1998, the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM) at Temple University has a distinguished tradition preparing leaders in the sport, recreation, tourism and hospitality industries. 

Thoroughly committed to providing student-centered education and professional development relevant to today’s thriving sport, tourism and hospitality industry — STHM integrates applicable, real-world experience into the curriculum and classroom through its global network of industry partners and well-connected alumni network. Our award-winning faculty and cutting-edge research institutes engage in pioneering research, informing business practices and providing students with the knowledge and skills to succeed in these fast-growing industries. 

The School offers undergraduate degree programs in sport and recreation management and tourism and hospitality management; traditional graduate degree programs in sport business, and hospitality management; and two online graduate degree programs in executive sport business and travel and tourism. STHM also offers a PhD program in business administration with a concentration in tourism and sport.